Haggerston Walk (1.7 miles)

1/20 History lockdown walk through Haggerston, an ancient settlement in the northern part of the parish of  Shoreditch. Start at Haggerston Station, on the North London Line, originally opened one block south on Dunston Street in 1865. Walk east along Lee Street. beside Stonebridge Common, created from the clearance of houses bombed in the Blitz and by a WW2 V-1 flying bomb.

2/20 At the end of Lee Street, named for the family who bought land here in 1594, turn right into Haggerston Road, once a country lane called Slough Lane. See the 2019 mural outside the bookies on the other side of the road. Also note the other sculptures in this street

3/20 100 years ago both sides of the road were lined with a fishmonger, grocer, butcher, ladies tailor, newsvendor, wardrobe dealer, toy maker, dining rooms, chair and bedroom furniture maker, pubs, fire lighter manufacturers, Hackney Working Men’s Club, school, house breaker,  chandlers, laundry, hairdresser, fried fish shop, cycle agent, boot repairer,  confectioner, baker, tripe dresser, gasfitter, sawdust contractor, corn chandlers, surgical instrument maker, oilman, hosiers and glovers, pawnbroker, linen draper, cheesemonger, dairyman, grindery dealer.

4/20 Further down the road on the right recent apartments replaced Haggerston Estate put up in 1934. Nearby Clarissa St, to be seen on an 1894 map, led to the estate’s blocks and roads being named after characters in Samuel Richardson’s 1741 novel Clarissa.

5/20 Continue to the bridge over the Regent’s Canal, completed in 1820: 8.5 miles long connecting London’s docks at Limehouse to the Grand Union Canal at Paddington and the country’s canal network.

6/20 On the canal’s completion, industry was immediately attracted to the canal-side. The Bridge Academy, on your right on the opposite bank, is on the site of what had been the retort house of the Independent Gas Company, which moved here in 1824. Walk over the bridge; go left at Laburnum St and take the first right down Swimmers Lane. Stop on the other side of Whiston Road to look across to the former Haggerston Baths.

7/20 The baths were opened in 1904 by the Mayor of Shoreditch. They had a 100 x 35 feet pool, 11 first class and 30 second class slipper baths with a washhouse around the back. The baths were closed in 2000 by Hackney Council. The building is to be developed to provide community and commercial office spaces. Walk along to the traffic lights, cross and  continue on Whiston Rd into Haggerston Park through the entrance on your right.

8/20 This north part of Haggerston Park was the site of the Imperial Gas Works from 1821 till hit by a V2 rocket bomb in March 1945. In 1900 the works produced 21 billion cubic feet of gas per annum. Walk ahead across the park to the wall on the other side. Note on the right the grassed-in cut which brought in barges carrying coal from the canal.

9/20 Haggerston Park was laid out in 2 phases: the northern part in 1956; the southern part, on the other side of the wall, was created in the 1980s after clearance of the housing badly bombed in WW2. After entering the southern part of the park through the wall, turn left to walk along the cobbles of what was Edith St. Take the first right into what was Tuilerie St, beside the football pitches on your right.

10/20 Go right between the football pitches and the tennis courts. Then turn left past the building on your left into Yorkton Street. St Saviour’s Priory, at the top of the road on your right, has been home since 1871 to an Anglican order of nuns, still serving the sick and poor of the area. Walk round the Priory into Dunloe Road and cross Queensbridge Rd

11/20 On your right is the Grade II listed Haggerston School. It was built in 1963, the work of leading Modernist architect Ernö Goldfinger. It is his only secondary school for the London County Council. Originally for girls only, the school went co-ed in 2010. Continue along Dunloe Street.

12/20. Divert down Dawson Road (second left) to note the Hells Angels London ‘Charter.’ Continue back along Dunloe Street, until you reach the towering St Chad’s Church, built in 1868 as part of the Haggesrton Church Building Scheme providing large, cheap mission churches to ‘counter godlessness among the urban poor.’

13/20 Opposite is 1967 Fellows Court, on the site of ‘notable architecturally’ 1841 Nichols Square. The square had Classical style, flat-fronted houses with porticos along the sides of the square around 28 semi-detached Tudor style cottages in the centre. Although ‘in excellent condition,’ the houses were demolished by Shoreditch Council in 1963.

14/20 Head up Appleby Street. If closed, return to visit to buy plants and absorb the peace of the quiet oasis of St Mary’s Secret Garden on the left. At the end of Appleby St turn right into How’s Street. Here at the junction with Weymouth Terrace was the centre of the medieval settlement of Haggesrton. Hergotestane in the Domesday Book of 1086 had 10 households: 3 villagers; 7 smallholders.

15/20 Walk between the buildings on the north side of How’s Street to cross Whiston Rdand go along Boat Lane to Laburnum Street, named Nursery Lane in 1745. Opposite is the Laburnum Boat Club community-based water sports centre. Set up in 1983 by local parents for young people, its main activities are canoeing and narrow boating.

16/20 The boat club is on the site of the gas holders of the Independent Gas Company. Turn left and walk to the end of Laburnum Street where, in the distance to the left, is St Columba Church. It was built 1867-71 to seat 800, by the same architect, James Brooks, and under the same scheme as St Chad’s: both ‘cheap, tall and conspicuous.’

17/20 On the left corner of Laburnum and Kingsland Roads, innovative Shoreditch Metropolitan Borough built in 1923 the Maternity and Child Welfare Centre, a pioneering pre-NHS experiment in public healthcare, providing one of the UK’s first pre-natal and infant care out-patient clinics. It was paid for by the Carnegie UK Trust.

18/20 On the right-hand corner is the Suleymaniye Kulliyesi Mosque and cultural centre of the Turkish community, built 1993-8 with a double height prayer hall, conference hall, classrooms, accommodation and mortuary. It had been the site of the Britannia pub next to Batey’s Ginger Beer makers, there from 1855.

19/20 Turn right to walk up Kingsland Road passing the former offices of the Independent Gas Company, which in 1893 was used to house Shoreditch Borough’s first public library, funded by Cornish philanthropist J Passmore Edwards. Continue to the bridge over the canal. Take the first right going beside the canal and then first left into Stean Street, where the Kray twins were born in 1933.

20/20 Return up Stean Street to Haggerston Station. Inside see Tod Hanson’s mural celebrating the theory why the world’s magnetic fields seemed to fluctuate, as devised by astronomer and geophysicist Edmund Halley, born in Haggerston in 1656, best known for computing the orbit of Halley’s Comet.



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